“They say there are three gates to Hell. That night, we found one of them.”
Story: Two twenty something girls head to Tel Aviv… But instead, why not detour to Jerusalem with some rando dude that says he’s an archeologist? C’mon. It’s not like it’s Judgement Day, or anything. OH WAIT.
Scares: Some moments of creepy dread, and the demonic beings are pretty effective.
Splat factor: Mild. Most blood is brownish thanks to the filters used.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Not really.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original, but a sequel is in the works.
Trick or Treat?: JeruZalem is definitely a cool ride, and it has some moments where it’s actually quite creepy. But the clichés are hard and fast here; stupid Americans doing stupid things, the crazy guy who’s On Point with his warnings, the rush to leave a bad place before it’s locked down.
And of course the 21st Century darling, the “found footage”/POV style, which helps with exposition – tourist gal Sarah gets some sort of prescription Google-glass from her pops, which is hooked into Facebook and other intewebby stuff – but suffers from the typical shakey-cam blurries these films love to throw onto the screen. And of course her glasses constantly have “fatal error” flashing, but everything works great except for when she really needs them to. Sarah loses her regular glasses when she gets her bag stolen, so she “has” to wear her Google specs. A decent excuse for the found-footage “Why are they filming everything?” question.
Jane the Virgin‘s Yael Grobglas plays Sarah’s BFF Rachel, and she’s probably the only one of the cast most casual fans will recognize here in the states. Rock the Casbah‘s Yon Tumarkin plays Kevin the archeologist, and I really wish they’d have given him tiny bit more in the way of getting ancient history info out to his pals. It’s refreshing that a horror film doesn’t talk it’s reasoning to death, but a few more tidbits here and there would have been a nice touch. Plus, why does Kevin get a panic attack in a cave full of artifacts early in the film? Aren’t archeologists hard-wired to be too amazed to panic? Ah well.
The PAZ Brothers, Doron and Yoav Paz, definitely hooked into an interesting storyline here. There’s plenty to really dig into…but the brothers don’t do too much digging. Hints and casual conversations about how in scripture, Jerusalem is a gateway to Hell, get tossed out here and there. But once demons start showing up and possessing folks, there’s no time for a deeper connection to that idea beyond all hell breaking loose. Though I have to give ’em credit; those demons are way cool, and the production design is fantastic. I’ve always wanted to go to Jerusalem, so the day-to-day look of the city has me fascinated. The PAZ Brothers also show the multicultural vibe of the city, getting Jews, a Christian, and Muslims together as things go to hell – and not making a big production out of it.
If you dig End Of Days horror like I do, JeruZalem will be a fun, if uneven, joint. If you’re just looking for something scary, but not too taxing, this is also a good choice. But if you’re looking for a drinking game horror movie? YATZEE BAYBEE. Take a sip every time girlfriend’s glasses go boink, someone tries to tell the tourists to leave, or you see a demon when the characters don’t.
All in all, if you can get past the run-run storyline, and camerawork that gets too shaky and spins more than it should, even for POV shots? It’s an effective Netflix night. Bonus for not trying to dig too deep into the whys and wherefores of it all, and focusing on the scary at hand. Plus, it’s filmed in JERUSALEM, people. How groovy is that?
Score: 3 out of 5 pumpkins.